August, 2012

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31st Aug 2012

Spending time with my families

That isn’t a typo… last week was honestly the best week of my program so far. I got the chance to spend time with the two most important groups of people in my life right now, my family visiting from home and a night in Fort Wilderness with my ‘Disney Family’ consiting of my arrival group and friends!

Before my family arrived I decided to buy a Tables in Wonderland card since our cast discounts are blocked out until the end of September. The card costs $90 for Cast Members and gives a 20% discount. I worked out that in the 5 meals we had booked we would easily save more than that amount.

On the first night we had reservations at Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios. We arrived to find the waiting area full of people and the Greeter used the words “We are a bit behind on reservations” and I knew what that meant! It turned out that they had to take all of the the Prime Time Cafe reservations as they had to close so fitting two restaurants in to one was naturally proving a challenge. I caught a glimpse of their Assigner and she looked pretty stressed, I know I would have been in that situation. We had a really nice meal in the end although I did order what sounded like a really nice cocktail only to discover it was bright pink and came in a champagne flute – girly much? I brought my sister and her friend Debra back to the commons before we went out with the rest of the UKs to cowboys.

On Sunday we ate at Wolfgang Puck at Downtown Disney which was probably my least favourite meal of the week. We had a fairly rubbish server and they forgot one of the Entrees. But I guess you have to have the bad to appreciate the good.

On Monday morning I had to get up super early to get a bus to Disney University to take a class which was my only scheduled shift for the week. It was called ‘Podium Excellence’ and taught all of the ins and outs of the table management system that we use in the restaurant as well as the central Disney reservation system. It also introduced the service standards which Disney is using for Podium cast members which I will soon be teaching to some of the new arrival groups in the next few months. It was actually a really interesting class. When it finished Ally, one of the new CPs who works as a seater at Cinderella’s Royal Table (the restaurant in the castle) offered me a lift home which saved me the extra-long bus journey which was much appreciated. I miss mixing with the CPs like on my other programs, I always think it is kind of shame that we really only mix with the other internationals and mostly just the other UKs.

Monday night was the reservation I had been most looking forward to. Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It really lived up to expectations – the food was absolutely delicious and unlike most of the other restaurants we ate at the portions were the right size and we left felling full but not ill. We had one of the best servers I have ever seen, Andrew, who was extremely attentive and did one of the most detailed and mouth-watering spiels I have heard. Jiko is definitely my new favourite WDW restaurant. I am already looking for reservations for my birthday in February.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I got to spend time with the Disney family. The day was spent at Universal with Geraint, my sister and Debra where we spent all of the time in Harry Potter and the night was spent at Wilderness Lodge with the rest of the gang. We arrived in the late afternoon along with the rain, the evening was basically spent inside the cabin chatting, drinking and listening to Craig on his guitar. It was a fantastic night with some great friends and it really reminded me just how good we have it out here.

Wednesday was Craig’s birthday, everyone who was working left pretty early so Bailey, Craig and I went to Trail’s End for their buffet breakfast where Craig, the Irishman, discovered there is actually such thing as Irish Breakfast Tea. We then took the boat over to the Magic Kingdom to pay there for a few hours. In the evening Craig had booked Narcoosee’s at the Grand Floridian which was another delicious meal where I got to use my Tables in Wonderland discount. It was nice to get all dressed up and go out, we don’t really do that very much out here so it felt pretty special.

Thursday’s reservation was for the Rose and Crown where I used my connections to get a nice table with a view for the fireworks! We got table 711 which is a table on lower deck with a great view and it is tucked into a corner so it is not too noisy or crowded. David served us and I really appreciated just how much fun he has with his guests, he spent the whole evening joking around while providing really great service. If I ever decide to go in to service I really hope that I can treat my guests as well as he does.

On Friday the cold that has been chasing me for a week finally caught up with me and I spent most of the day sleeping in my parents apartment trying to get over the fever I was having. At least it was a week when I didn’t have to work so I guess it happened at the best time. Sam had booked tickets for the Tampa Bay Rays vs Oakland Athletics Baseball on the Saturday. Sam, Lindsay, Amanda and I set out fairly early in the morning to drive to Tropicana Stadium. This was my first baseball game and I really enjoyed it. Lindsay had to explain quite a few of the rules as we went along but this is definitely a sport I could get in to – you get to sit down in an air conditioned stadium and food and drink is easily available plus you don’t have to pay too much attention as they recap everything on the scoreboard- what is not to love?

Everyone got very excited over the weekend about the possibility that Hurricane Isaac might hit Florida. As it turned out it missed and we just got a tonne of rain. Still more than a month of the season left though so there is still a chance – I really do want to see a small hurricane while I am here!

My family left on Monday and since then I have had podium shifts almost every day. It is nice to be back at work and with the build up to Food and Wine about to start it is going to get pretty crazy pretty soon and personally I can’t wait – work is so much more fun when it is busy.

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13th Aug 2012

Hard work and good times

Apologies for another 2 week post gap but as I will explain I have been pretty busy the last few weeks.

Last week I basically did something different to what I was scheduled almost every day of the week. Monday my Beer Cart became Stocker, Tuesday my Chippy became Podium. Wedesday I was called in early for my GT shit, Thursday I actually got to do Beer Cart/Stocker training and Friday I was Assigning. Our full time Assigner is on vacation at the moment and had been scheduled to train someone of the Saturday and asked if I would pick it up. I really enjoyed the opportunity to train Assigning, it is nice to be able to pass on a few tips and tricks and I think Assigners are better when they have had a couple of different people teaching them since everyone has their own style. A 6th day of overtime with Assigner and Training premiums was also not a bad addition to the paycheck!

After I finished training I got back to Commons at 22.01 and managed to run back to block 28, which takes about 5 minutes, get showered, changed and eat and be in a taxi to Cowboys by 22.30. I was pretty impressed with myself. You really have to love the ridiculousness of CRP life sometimes, where else in the world would you be rushing out to a club after an 11 hour shift finishing at 9.30?!

On Sunday I went to MK with Lesley, Craig, Bailey and Sam. It is rare that we are all off together these days and it was really nice to spend some proper time together.

Monday I was assigning again after I picked up a shift. It was a pretty hellish night with lots of tables waiting far too long but I was very pleased when a party of 6 who had waited a long time and who I had arranged with a manager to get free Appetizers to compensate came back to me at the end of their meal and thanked me for looking after them. It is nice to know that the effort we put in to improve guests less than magical experiences is appreciated.

Tuesday turned in to my 4th Assigner shift in a row when the Assigner called in. This was really the start of my less than great week. I had another not great shift where by the end of the night I just wanted the day to end! I did get some great news though, I am going to be the Core Trainer for podium which means I am going to help one of my managers re-design some of our training and help improve the standard of guest service that we are providing to guests at the podium.

On Wednesday I was supposed to be GTing with a shift starting at 4pm but I got a call from my Area Manager about 9am asking me to come in early as one of our Coordinators had called in.  This ended up turning in to a 12 hour GT shift with just a 45 minute break due to the workload. At the end of the night I was also asked to start at 9.30am the next morning. This meant I got back to commons about 1am and had to be back on a bus at 7.45am. Needless to say I was not in the best mood.

Thankfully I only had to work 5 hours the next day and managed to get ERd as soon as the PM coordinator and GT got in. It did mean that I got to play at being Coordinator for the morning though which was a great experience to see what they have to do, it is definitely something I would love the chance to get to try again although perhaps with access to CDS next time so that I can make sure people are actually getting their breaks! In the evening a few of us went to Bahama Breeze for food where we got fairly bad service and I had to take almost my entire Entree home after I filled up on massive appetizer – whoops!

On Friday I had a lovely Chippy training shift with a great Trainee which was a nice relaxing end to a less than perfect week. In the evening we planned to go to TGIs for food but were told it would be a 40 minute wait for a table so we ended up going to Buffalo Wild Wings instead. It was nice, cheap food with some great UK and Canadian company, just what I needed to remind me of all the good things about being out here.

Saturday I was off and Lesley and I headed out to Downtown where I got my first Earl of Sandwich of this program before we went over to the Boardwalk and Epcot for more food and shopping. After hiding in the American pavilion from a storm we headed back to the Commons for a chill out evening.

Today I got up fairly early to go to MK to buy Tables in Wonderland for when my parents get here. Our dining discounts are blocked out until September so for $90 I could buy TIW which gives a 20% discount right now. Since there are 6 of us going out for 4 meals the 20% will be more than $90 making it well worth it. Plus I get to keep it to get discounts on Alcohol for the rest of the year. Anyone with family coming out this month should really consider it. After I got back I jumped in a taxi with Lesley, Craig and Katy and we went for lunch at the Olive Garden on iDrive. We once again had pretty rubbish service but the food was delicious, I will definitely be going back although I repeated my error of ordering an Appetizer for about 4 people just for myself. I will know better for next time. When we got back we went around to Katy’s to start watching the build up to the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics and tonight I am heading back to HOB for the first time in ages.

I also got some more great news on the schedule this morning. I have got extra time off when my parents are here than what I was originally told which means I am out of the Pavilion for 9 days from next weekend. The only shift I have is a 4 hour class at Disney U early on the Monday morning. I am so pleased that I get to spend some quality time with the family while they are here.

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